WHO calls on Governments to brace for Covid winter wave

Testing has been scaled back in many countries, which WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said obscures the true picture of what is happening.
WHO calls on Governments to brace for Covid winter wave

Kenneth Fox

The World Health Organization has called on governments to prepare for winter, with more Covid surges expected, and current case numbers believed to be underestimated.

As the Irish Examiner reports, case numbers rose by almost 30 per cent in the last two weeks, director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Testing has been scaled back in many countries, which he said obscures the true picture of what is happening.

“It also means that treatments are not given early enough to prevent serious illness or death,” he warned. “In Europe and America, BA.4 and BA.5 are driving waves. In countries like India a new sub-lineage of BA.2.75 has also been detected.”

He said the next variant's behaviour cannot be predicted, and he called for acceleration of clinical trials.

At the same briefing, Dr Mike Ryan, the Irishman heading up the emergency response, said European governments should not relax.

“The real work for countries now is to really review your national plans,” he said.

He said winter will come in the Northern Hemisphere with children and students again all indoors, and questioned if governments are ready. They need to look at improving genetic sequencing, contact tracing, increasing global trials and closing gaps in immunity with vaccinations, he said.

I think we are going to see further waves of disease, and I think we will see them have very differential impact between countries.

There has been “almost a collapse in testing” across Europe, he said despite growing anecdotal evidence of higher case numbers.

“I do think beyond the actual hard data there is a much more intense wave of infection passing through,” he added.

He noted vaccines are "very much working", adding that in the main, among people who are fully vaccinated, particularly people who are boosted and in vulnerable groups, there is not a rise in ICU admissions.

"We are not seeing a serious rise in deaths," he said. It had been hoped summer would limit infections in Europe but that is not happening.

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